Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Disappearing promises

The Conservative party spent last week trawling the annals of its website to confine all of their pre-election promises to the outer reaches of the dark web.  One of the deleted lines was a promise by the chancellor to: ‘Harness the internet to help us become more accountable, more transparent and more accessible.’ I spent today’s business questions looking at some of the promises that they deleted.

In one deleted speech the prime minister said that his would be: ‘The most family-friendly government we’ve ever had.’ But what has happened? There are 578 fewer sure starts since he got in to power and the cost of childcare has gone up by 30 per cent. Instead of voting with us on Tuesday to extend childcare provision, the influential Tory ‘Free Enterprise Group’ spent its week plotting to slap an irrevocable 15 per cent tax on children’s clothes. And it emerged that the government had presided over a cut in the cash going to maternity units. John Major was right to criticise the dominance of a public school elite in the upper echelons of public life. But how did the prime minister respond? He blamed poor young people for their lack of aspiration. How out of touch can this government get?

I suggested that the leader of the House Andrew Lansley might remember another promise that mysteriously disappeared from the Tory website last week: no top-down reorganisations of the NHS.

He might have seen yesterday’s report which said his £3bn reorganisation which no one wanted and no one voted for has weakened the NHS and put it in a worse position to deal with winter pressures. He’ll also remember another deleted promise: ‘I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS’. But today’s figures show we’ve got over six and a half thousand fewer nurses since the election.

In a deleted speech from 2009 the prime minister promised to cut the cost of politics. But, despite the coalition agreement to cut them, the number of special advisers now stands at a whopping 98 rather than the 72 which were in place when we left office. And this week we have discovered that the government is planning to let cabinet ministers appoint 10 more each, at a potential cost of £16m pounds.

Last week, the prime minister donned a white tie and tails, and stood behind a golden lectern in the City to announce that the cuts are not just for now but permanent. He used to pretend he didn’t come into politics to make cuts but now he’s really let the mask slip.

The rebranding of the Conservative party has been a total failure. They said ‘vote blue, go green’. They even changed their logo to a tree. But now apparently they want to get rid of all the ‘green crap’. They said they’d reform our politics, but now in the lobbying bill they are legislating to shut ordinary people out. They said they believed in a ‘big society’, but now they just play the politics of division and the dog whistle.

They can delete what they like from their website but the British people won’t forget that they were sold a husky pup. It is no wonder that Nick Boles wants to delete their name as well.

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Angela Eagle is MP for Wallasey, shadow leader of the House of Commons and writes the weekly Business of Parliament column for Progress. She tweets @AngelaEagle

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Angela Eagle MP

is MP for Wallasey

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